Elaine McCusker

American Enterprise Institute
Resident Fellow
The Modernization Quandary

Elaine McCusker is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she focuses on defense strategy, budget, and innovation; the US military; and national security. She has a background in defense planning and budgeting, military campaign assessments, defense data analytics, contingency operations and science and technology, and substantial experience in resolving complex strategic and tactical-level challenges, including those with international dimensions.

Before joining AEI, Ms. McCusker served as deputy and then acting under secretary of defense (comptroller) from August 2017 until June 2020. In total, she served for more than 13 years at the Department of Defense, including at US Central Command, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), and the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition.

Ms. McCusker also spent three years on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Earlier, she spent six years with the Argonne National Laboratory and four years with the University of Washington.

Ms. McCusker has a BA in political philosophy from the University of Dallas.


• US Department of Defense: Acting and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), 2017–20; Director, Resources and Analysis, US Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, 2011–17; Deputy Director, Operations, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), 2010–11; Associate Director, Operations, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), 2008–2010; Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, 2007–08

• Senate Armed Services Committee: Professional Staff Member, 2004–07

• University of Washington: Assistant Director, Federal Relations; Co-Chair, Coalition for National Security Research, 2000–04

• Argonne National Laboratory, University of Chicago and US Department of Energy: Congressional/Government Affairs Liaison, 1994–2000


BA, political philosophy, University of Dallas